“I maintain that the craft of acting always has some element of communication as part of its purpose in any given instance. I am not speaking of an objective communication, but a highly subjective communication which deals in those regions of our humanity that are best shown and felt rather than described.” –Jeff Taylor
I love this quote.
The story, the mythos, the tale is a sacred thing, and those who have a love for communicating these stories in creative ways should have a special place in our lives.
“Perhaps you have always been good at acting, but you haven’t had any opportunity to use or develop that talent…Or perhaps you fancied yourself as an actor but no one else did…Perhaps you feel you could be a great orator…You dream of yourself in some dramatic role, bringing tears to everyone’s eyes, or you see yourself as a comedian causing people to double up with spontaneous laughter….If you do nothing about this desire to use your dramatic ability, there is frustration, and you put part of yourself in a ‘plaster cast’ which will stunt your personality rather than develop it.” –Edith Schaeffer, Hidden Art
I agree with Mrs. Schaeffer. What she says in the above quote holds true for the art of acting as well as every other art we are discussing in this 31 days series. If you have something in you, that draws you to a certain art then you must find some way to make it part of your life. Notice I did not say you must recreate your life so you can participate in your art. No! You must find a way within the reality of the life God has planted you in. You are meant to flourish. A huge part of your ability to flourish rests in finding contentment in your season and making the most of it.
How could one play with acting during the busy season on motherhood and homeschooling? I love Mrs. Schaeffer’s idea.
“Reading aloud is the best outlet that I know of for hidden dramatic ability. It is the best development of speaking ability, and the least complicated exercise for the use of one’s voice and expression.” -Edith Schaeffer, Hidden Art
Reading Aloud! Of course! Mrs. Scheaffer is not the only one who holds this opinion about the use of dramatic ability.
Jim Weiss, a favorite storyteller, preaches this message in an enchanting way all over the country through his storytelling performances, interviews, and lectures. Here is one great interview I found at the Amongst Lovely Things Blog where Mr. Weiss talks with Sarah about this very topic.
Maybe the idea of storytelling and reading aloud in creative ways interests you, but you have not actually developed the skill. I can relate. Before homeschooling, I never tried to develop such a skill. I am very much in the process with this. It was a talk I heard at a homeschool convention, by Jim Weiss that inspired me to begin practicing at this. The first time I tried it, we were reading ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ by C.S. Lewis. I selected my voices for the characters, kind of on a whim, and began reading. The children enjoyed it very much. However, something happened that I did not expect. They told me the voice I gave Mr. Beaver was not the right voice. I had chosen a bit of a rough English accent, in an attempt to imitate the movie. The children explained to me why Mr. Beaver needed more of a country accent. Not only did we enjoy the story, but it led to an interesting discussion and we all are acquainted the story at a deeper level because of it. It was worth it, and I am glad I gave it a go. Try it! Sarah’s Read Aloud Revival at Amongst Lovely Things is filled with incredible ideas and support to help you along the way. She even has a Facebook group for those who join the challenge of reading aloud everyday. Just begin!
Another resource I found that I absolutely LOVE is a book called ‘The Storyteller’s Start-Up Book: Finding, Learning, Performing and Using Folktales’ by Margaret Read MacDonald. Seriously, one could do an entire series on the truths, ideas, and tips she has within her book. Her book begins with an invitation to storytelling and then lays out the principles and forms for this art, in a simple and approachable way I am excited to go deeper with this book –obviously.
Ideas for Playing with Theater
:: Reading Aloud and storytelling, of course
:: Include theater games and mini performances in your family gatherings or your homeschool co-op/community. We incorporate our study of Shakespeare this way in our co-op day. We warm up with a theater game from the book ‘On Stage: Theater Games and Activities for Kids ’ and then we work on one play at a time –four plays over the course of the year. We select a few lines for everyone to memorize, talk about, and perform. We use Ken Ludwig’s book ‘How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare’ for this. Then, during the second part of the semester we choose a different Shakespeare play and work with one scene. Everyone memorizes their assigned parts. Once the parts are memorized we work on how to day them. We put on a performance at the end of the semester. By the end of the year, we have played with four different Shakespeare plays and memorized sections of lines from two of the plays and an entire scene from the other two.
:: Use McGuffey’s Readers (Free on Amazon Kindle Right now). This is what we use for teaching phonograms, some reading, and beginning oration in conjunction with Shakespeare. At the beginning of each reader, it presents level appropriate elements of speaking from the written word. It is excellent. My children and I have become more eloquent readers because of it.
:: Listen and imitate dramatized audio books. These can be any book, but especially with Shakespeare you will begin to hear the ebb and flow of the words. This resource will be a tremendous help in developing your and your children’s skill in acting and speaking. Audible is a great place to find these renditions. There are free audio books at Librivox, but I find the best dramatic representations are found through Audible. If your goal is to develop your dramatic ability, go with the higher quality recordings.
“Everyone has a story to tell. And while we could spend a lifetime learning the art and technique of storytelling –perfecting our style and performance –for most of us, it is the simple telling of a tale that is important. Something as ordinary as the events of the day, an old joke, or a traditional story we heard as a child. Storytelling comes from the heart, not the head, and nothing should keep us from the exhilaration and sheer pleasure of telling a story.” –Jimmy Neil Smith, Homespun: Tales from America’s Favorite Storytellers.
Just begin! I look forward to hearing how it goes.
|This part is a member of our 31 Days of Playing with the Arts Series|